This wasn't a dream. Jeremy Corbyn really did hold a press conference with UB40

Jeremy Corbyn endorsed by popular 1980s reggae combo UB40
Jeremy Corbyn endorsed by popular 1980s reggae combo UB40
Adam Bienkov By

You're 24 points ahead in the polls in the race to be Labour leader. The bookies give you a 95% chance of winning. Your chances of victory are all but a nailed-on certainty. So what do you do? Well you kick back and hang out with one of the biggest cod-reggae acts of the 80s of course.

Jeremy Corbyn's joint press conference with UB40 yesterday afternoon was hands down the strangest political event I've ever been to. At one point, as the band listened intently to Corbyn's musings on the virtues of Romanian folk music, I began to believe I was in some sort of cheese-fuelled daydream. Was this really happening? Had I fallen asleep and woken up on the set of a David Lynch film? Was that really Jeremy Corbyn underneath a banner with the giant hashtag "UB4Corbyn" (Unemployment Benefit for Corbyn)? Was that really the leader of the opposition asking saxophonist Brian Travers whether he listens to classical music ("occasionally" apparently)? Did Corbyn really just thank the band "for everything you do, because music is part of our lives and part of everyone's existence"? Was this really happening? Was I really here?

By the time the Q+A session came around, the audience of assembled hacks looked like they were suffering from the advanced stages of post traumatic stress. What were we meant to ask about this? "Why on God's green Earth are you holding a press conference with UB40?" seemed the most obvious question, closely followed by "How the hell was this approved by anybody?" and "Will this be available on DVD?"

Instead, we asked politely about the Labour leader's musical taste. We learnt that he loves sixties Caribbean music, Joan Baez and Mahler. On the latter he explained at length that: "Trying to understand what it is that motivates somebody to sit in a garret room, often in great poverty in the nineteenth century and turn out something truly stupendous, when they didn't have the opportunity to play it immediately and see what it was like and then to write it out and find an orchestra that could perform it and then decide if it was any good or not, that was an incredibly complicated process and I just admire the skill that goes into that and the skill of the teachers that managed to teach those people to write music. It really is a fantastic message."

He then turned to UB40. "I don't know if you do your writing in that way?"

"There's no point asking us. We do everything arse backwards," replied drummer Jimmy Brown.

Pushed further, Brown replied: "we just get in a room and knock something together."

An inspiring message. And one which has apparently not been lost on Corbyn's team, for whom "just get in a room and knock something together" seemed to have been the entire plan for this event.

Afterwards, the assembled hacks stumbled outside into the daylight. "What the f*** was that?" asked one bemused correspondent. "Did that really just happen?" asked another. There wasn't long to ponder this question before Corbyn and the band came outside for one final photo shoot together.

As the Labour leader stood uncharacteristically proudly for the cameras, he looked happier than I had ever seen him before. For a man who normally looks like he'd rather be anywhere else but doing his job of leading the official opposition, Jeremy looked like he'd finally found his place. If there really was any point to all of this, perhaps it was that.

Adam Bienkov is deputy editor of

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